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The response to the pandemic and the drive for change

Claudio Albertini

Born in Bologna in 1958, Claudio has been at the helm of IGD since May 2009, after having served as a member of the Company’s Board for three years. For more than twenty years, Mr Albertini was part of the Unipol Group, where he ultimately acted as General Manager of Unipol Merchant. Mr Albertini is a certified financial auditor registered in Bologna. He is also a member of the EPRA Advisory Board and of the Nominations Committee of ECSP (European Council of Shopping Places).

Leonardo Shopping Center in Imola (Bologna), Italy
The Covid-19 pandemic brought important changes in terms of both interpersonal and business dynamics across all economic sectors. With regard to shopping centres, the numerous days of mandatory closures, both in 2020 and 2021, had short, medium and long-term impacts. In Europe, the sector suffered from a significant decline in sales, as well as property writedowns, and was, and still is, affected by the changes in consumer habits, which drove the owners and managers of shopping centres to ask themselves which future trends would drive the market.
Gruppo IGD, one of Italy’s leading listed retail real estate companies, adopted a quick and targeted response to the long-lasting effects. The work done to protect the health of workers, retailers, providers and customers, along with the distinctive qualities of its shopping centres – which are part of urban environments serving the local community – allowed the Group to be resilient and recover around 85% of the traffic seen in the pre-pandemic period just after the complete re-opening of all the retailers in June 2021.
From the very beginning, the top management’s main concern was to ensure the safety of its businesses and customers. The Group, therefore, invested significant resources in implementing new and stringent safety measures in all its shopping centres (including the installation of thermo scanners, the sanitisation of spaces and systems, etc.) and, beginning with the first lockdown period, sought to reach agreements with individual tenants in order to guarantee the economic balance of both parties.
The pandemic accelerated a few trends that had already materialised, causing the Group to look closer at the remodelling of its spaces in order to respond to new needs and new habits. Based on the periodic surveys and analysis carried out using its databases, IGD is studying how shoppers’ demands have changed and is working on ways to prepare its properties for the future.
Thanks to the support of a transversal team that works across all the different business areas, the Group will be able to carry out various projects inside its centres. These projects relate specifically to layouts, merchandise mix, services provided and technological innovation while also taking into account ESG factors, fundamentally important in today’s environment, to anticipate and respond quickly to the needs of consumers and retailers and continue to put its customers at the centre of the business.